No no, not that kind of stripper. Sheesh. Paint stripper. I've been meaning to blog about this for a while but I lost the photos and finally located (most of) them today. Last summer, sitting next to a trash can on garbage night awaiting doom at the dump, I spied a furniture piece friend in need of some help. Not wanting to be totally creepy, I didn't take a photo, but rather sent my boyfriend to fetch it after dark. Not creepy at all. She came with some black knob hardware that was in pretty decent shape, but I forgot to snag a pic before beginning plastic surgery. So here she is partially naked and ready to begin her transformation:
Being extremely paranoid about bugs and critters, I wiped the entire thing down twice with antibacterial wipes and a strong bathroom antibac spray before even allowing her on the patio. Upon getting a good look at her, I was pleasantly surprised that the dresser was all wood, and though it had a LOT of layers of paint on it, was in pretty good shape. I wasn't feeling the off-white vibe, and since she was all wood, I decided to strip 'er down to see see the grain hiding underneath her layers of color (as it turned out, there were a LOT). I was hoping to end up with something like this gorgeous lovely from Kate over at Centsational Girl.
Being the semi-green person that I am, and hearing good things from Centsational Girl about Citristrip, I decided to be nice to the earth (and my lungs), and strip the paint the green way. (Excuse the blurry photos; my poor little point and shoot was on death's door at this point. She's since gone to camera heaven. May she shoot in peace).
I laid out all the drawers on a big ol' piece of cardboard to catch any drippings, etc. Note: a 3 inch border is SO not enough to accomplish this. If you try this yourself, go big or go home. Trust me. It beats trying to scrape up stripper drippings off of concrete so you don't get charged/chewed out by your landlord.
So I painted on a nice thick layer of orange goop (aka: Citristrip) and let it sit for the recommended amount of time. After 30 minutes, I had this.
Once again, excuse the awful pics. If you could see what was going on there, you'd notice that there was very minimal bubbling. I had never stripped anything before, so wasn't sure if that was normal. So I gave it another 15 minutes. Then I had this:
That seemed like an improvement. Thinking that was what I was looking for, I gave it a scrape. (Spoiler alert: that is SO not enough bubbling). After scraping off maybe 10% of a single layer of paint and 100% of the stripper, I was left with a pile of orange goop in my tin and whole heck of a lot of paint still stuck on my dresser. Fail.
I figured it was time to chalk that one up as a failure (both earth-wise and financial-wise), and go for the old school hard-core nasty-bad-for-you-and-the-earth stripper. I'm not sure if it was the kind of paint that was used that was the culprit for the lack of effect; judging by the impact Citristrip had on the above-linked project at Centsational Girl, it may have been since hers was clearly latex paint and peeled off in a nice clean sweep. And mine...well...didn't. Enter chemical-ville stage right:
After only 5 minutes, this bubble party was goin' on.
And after another 20, she was ready to rock.
Time to scrape. Now, I am not wearing gloves in this photo. Nor did I test for lead paint, so...don't do it my way. However, I DID wear a mask, and since there was no dust (I was stripping, not sanding), I wasn't too worried. However, not wearing gloves was a bad idea and I don't recommend it. I got chemical burns all over my hands and forearms and they HURT. You don't notice when you get it on you, and then all of a sudden you think, "Hmm...my arm hurts. What is that? Ow! OWWWW!!" Then you look down and see a tiny little dot of something on your arm and think, "Was I stung? OW! OWW!!! WTF??" Then you swipe your hand over your arm, and it helps a little bit, but then your hand starts to burn and your arm continues to get worse. After that, you run around your patio like an idiot looking for something to wipe all your skin on, such as a large tarp, grass, or nearby garbage bag. Just sayin'. Wear gloves. And not the latex ones--they don't work for this business. You actually need the chemical hazardous ones. Not that I know from experience or anything...
Ok, so back to stripping. Paint. Stripping paint. This tool is handy because of all of its shapes and nooks for getting multiple surface types. It's like a torch of awesome.
For easy paint removal/picking uppage, I just placed my bin at the end and sloughed my pile of goo right off the end and into the bucket. You should really use a metal receptacle, as the stripper can burn through plastic over time, but I had used mine with the lame-o Citristrip and knew I'd need another one later to denature the stripper.
After the last round, I was left with this. It wasn't perfect, but it was a major improvement and I decided to sand the rest off.
Before sanding, I wanted to deactivate the stripper so that I could handle the piece without that God-awful burning. So I grabbed some odorless turpenoid and a stripper scrubby (that worked GREAT by the way) and gave her a good rub down. It caught some little stripped bits here and there that I missed with the smooth scraper. Plus she was neutralized and ready to go!
This is where I would show you the after of her all cleaned up and ready. I KNOW I took those pictures, but I can't find them for the life of me...they should be with all the others one taken at the same time. My computer must have gotten hungry and eaten them. It's too bad, because the wood grain was quite pretty...although that's a bit of a giveaway for the fact that she ended up NOT stained or I'd take a pic right now. Oh man, are you totally on the edge of your seat? I know you are. Don't lie.